Personalizing Cancer Treatment
I hate cancer. I really hate it.
I mean really. Really really really.
I’ve lost more friends and family to cancer than I care to count. I’ve lost an uncle to cancer. My two aunts. My grandfather. My grandmother.
In the last year, I’ve lost two good friends, and another one before them, several years ago, all wayyy too early (early 30s to mid 40s).
I hate cancer.
So I was pretty stoked about our announcement yesterday where my virtual brother, as Scott and I recently joked with Watson GM Manoj Saxena, is getting another form of unemployment.
First, there was Watson’s gig at Wellpoint, helping doctors with diagnoses. Then we learned Watson was heading to work at Citibank to help out on Wall Street.
Now Watson is being put to use at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in an effort to help oncologists obtain detailed diagnostic and treatment options based on updated research that will help them decide how best to care for an individual patient.
MSKCC’s world-renowned oncologists will assist in developing IBM Watson to use a patient’s medical information and synthesize a vast array of continuously updated and vetted treatment guidelines, published research and insights gleaned from the deep experience of MSKCC clinicians to provide those individualized recommendations to doctors. It will also help provide users with a detailed record of the data and evidence used to reach the recommendations?
You can learn more about this new evidence-based approach to cancer treatment in the video below.
Oncology treatment is a complex arena, and yet cancers are the second most common cause of death in the U.S., second only to heart disease.
In fact, the American Cancer Society projects that 1.6 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year with outcomes varying wildly across the country.
Cancer isn’t a single disease with one footprint of cause, but rather, with some having hundreds of sub-types, each with a different genetic fingerprint.
Significant discoveries in molecular biology and genetics in the past two decades have delivered new insights into cancer biology and strategies for targeting specific molecular alterations in tumors. But in the process, these advances have also ratcheted up the complexity of diagnosing and treating each case.
“This comprehensive, evidence-based approach will profoundly enhance cancer care by accelerating the dissemination of practice-changing research at an unprecedented pace,” said Dr. Mark G. Kris, Chief, Thoracic Oncology Service at MSKCC and one of the clinicians leading the development effort. He noted that 85 percent of patients with cancer are not treated at specialized medical centers and it can take years for the latest developments in oncology to reach all practice settings.